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Tethering is a process involving the establishment of a connection between a cell phone or other mobile device and a computer. The connection may be created by using a cable to tether the cell phone to the computer, or some type of wireless connection may provide the link. In both scenarios, the purpose of tethering is to allow the mobile device to gain Internet access via the connection to the computer.
Cables are one of the older means of establishing this type of connection. In some cases, using a USB cable can create a secure connection that allows the mobile phone to take advantage of the speed of the computer. A serial cable can also be used for this type of connectivity as well. One of the main drawbacks of the use of cable in tethering is that there is a limit on the distance that it is possible to have between the computer and the cell phone or PDA.
Wireless applications have become more reliable over the years and now represent the most flexible means of tethering a mobile device to a laptop or desktop computer. Infrared wireless applications provide a strong connection that allows the end user to move further away from the computer, although the range may be somewhat limited. A better option today is the use of Bluetooth® wireless technology to establish the tether between the two devices.
Many people make use of tethering without knowing it. WiFi connectivity is the latest means of tethering. Essentially, the connection can be made via a WiFi hot spot and routed through a network to establish the link to the computer. As a result, the two devices can either be in close proximity or have a substantial amount of distance between the two.
Tethering in all its forms can help the end user enjoy a greater degree of efficiency and convenience. While a connection by means of a physical cable is still somewhat limiting, the evolving wireless technology has made tethering a viable option for people who never considered this approach to Internet access before.
It is important to remember that the process of tethering does require a certain amount of resources for both devices. There is also the need to ensure there is software present to allow the connection to take place, especially in a wireless environment.
It is also important to remember that most of the major smartphone providers (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) offer tethering if you are willing to pay a fee. Yes, you can tether your laptop to your iPhone or other smartphone to your laptop when you need Internet access but no wireless router is in site, but your cell phone company will probably charge you turn on that feature.